How to Get the Best Quality Upholstery Sewing Machine
Buying a high quality industrial sewing machine makes upholstery sewing projects easier than they would be with an average household sewing machine.
Upholstery and re-upholstery jobs are easier to do with an industrial machine than on a regular household machine. The sewing fabric used for upholstery is heavy to begin with. Then, it is often necessary to attach the fabric to foam backing. Not just any sewing machine will be able to stitch through that kind of thickness without either breaking needles or the machine itself.
Industrial Machine Need Enough Power for Heavy Sewing Projects
A good machine for sewing upholstery fabric will have a power stand with a 1/2 horsepower motor and a smaller pulley. According to Ultimate Sew & Vac larger pulleys - around four inches in diameter - are for speed while smaller pulleys are for power. While speed is nice for an every day sewing machine operator making clothes, sewing through heavy upholstery fabric requires power.
A good industrial sewing machine will have a sewing stitch rate in the range of 5,000 stitches per minute. In spite of the incredible stitch speed of industrial machines they are reasonably easy to use because each industrial sewing machine does only one function - or one type of stitch. A household sewing machine will usually do at least a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch. Single functionality brings with it incredible speed, strength, and perfectly even stitches.
Features Needed for Upholstery Sewing Machines
A big bobbin machine is one of the first things to look for when it is time to buy an industrial sewing machine for upholstery. A machine that runs a class M bobbin is ideal for the heavy thread and fast sewing involved with upholstery. According to R&M Crafts a class M bobbin is 1" in diameter compared to the 3/4' class L bobbin. Having a bobbin that holds more thread means less lost time refilling and changing bobbins.
Another feature that is useful on an industrial sewing machine is a side-mount bobbin winder. A conveniently placed bobbin winder will run off of the machine's belt when engaged. It should be easy to reach and should operate smoothly. If the industrial sewing machine does not come with this installed it can be an inconvenience - but is neither too complicated to install nor especially expensive.
A compound walking foot makes it easier to sew through heavy upholstery materials in a process that is often very much like quilting. The walking foot - if watched at a slow speed - creates a motion that is similar to small steps. One part of the foot helps to hold the material in place as the other part steps forward. This helps prevent the fabric from bunching and twisting while going through multiple thicknesses at a high rate of speed.
Do Not Be Fooled By Deceptive Sewing Machine Terminology
To get a good industrial machine be aware of deceptive terminology. Semi-industrial, heavy duty, and industrial strength do not actually indicate that the machine in question is an industrial sewing machine. To determine if the sewing machine is actually an industrial sewing machine check the motor's horsepower and the stitch speed.
The best thing to do when it is time to buy an industrial sewing machine is do a little bit of research so the machine will do the needed job. It is one thing to know a big bobbin machine is what is needed. It is even better to know how a big bobbin looks. There is nothing wrong with asking a lot of questions and taking the time to research sewing machine features. If in doubt it is helpful to take an experienced industrial sewing machine operator to inspect the machine before purchasing it.
Copyright Laure Justice. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication. Originally Published on Suite101.com.